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Getting Past (E)Go

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I like to play squash, and the best advice a pro ever gave me was this: “Hit the ball in the middle of the racquet." Do you have any idea how difficult that simple piece of advice is to master? Not so long ago, a friend (Brent Vaartstra) posted a great podcast about overcoming low self esteem as a musician. This is something that has plagued me on and off most of my musical career, and I've been ...


Noa Fort at Cornelia Street Café

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Noa Fort Cornelia Street Café New York, NY March 19, 2018 In celebration of her debut album as leader, pianist and vocalist Noa Fort presented a concert of original songs at Cornelia Street Café. With trumpeter Josh Deutsch, bassist Dan Loomis, and drummer Ronen Itzik sharing the platform, Fort took her listeners on an intimate journey through lyrical and melodic shades of being. Because the set consisted of material both from and subsequent ...


Rob Clearfield: Wherever You're Starting From

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Chicago-based keyboardist Rob Clearfield has long been an active presence in the Windy City jazz scene, working with folks like bassist Matt Ulery, drummer Jon Deitemyer and guitarist Dan Bruce. Just last year, his appearances on Bruce's Earthshine (ears&eyes Records) and trumpeter Adam Larson's Second City (Inner Circle Music) were indicative of Clearfield's stylistic diversity, proving that he's as comfortable churning out Fender Rhodes-based grooves or doing an impressionistic take on Nirvana's “Smells Like Teen Spirit" as he is in ...


Cologne Open 2018

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Cologne Open Stadtgarten Cologne, Gemany March 1-2, 2018 Cologne Open, the first edition of a new showcase festival offering a selection of the city's jazz musicians, spanned two nights in the renowned Stadtgarten venue. It was launched on the occasion of a meeting of the newly established Artistic Exchange Platform (AEP) of Europe Jazz Network at this venue. This report first provides some background information before reviewing the individual musical performances of ...


Roberto Magris Sextet: Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery

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Roberto Magris is an Italian pianist who has an eclectic range of interests but is heavily in thrall to the masters of American bebop. On this particular live recording he leads a sextet that gives that language a pronounced Latin twist leading to a set of fiery performances. Magris uses two horn players, trumpeter Brian Lynch and tenor saxophonist Jonathan Gomez, who are explosive throughout, especially on the tunes that have an underlying Latin flavor such as “African ...


Wobbler: From Silence to Somewhere

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Formed in 1999, this premier Norwegian band lights up the progressive rock genre with this superfine and expertly produced studio album, where the old school prog playbook is given a bit of an uplift, especially since the band casts a gleaming persona into these multifaceted works. Sure, glimpses of Gentle Giant and classic-era Genesis weave into various movements. However, Wobbler interlaces a multitude of rhythmic and melodic aspects into these memorable compositions, combining ethereal, windblown dreamscapes with tenacious ensemble work ...


Peter Madsen's Seven Sins Ensemble: Never Bet The Devil Your Head

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Pianist Peter Madsen has come up with a novel idea for a jazz record: A Tribute to Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), America's founding father of macabre/horror fiction. Bringing together a jazz quartet--piano/bass/drums/trumpet--and a string quartet, Madsen and his Seven Sins Ensemble capture the moods and atmospheres of some of the author's better-known tales on Never Bet The Devil You Head. Madsen's translation of Poe's most famous poem, “The Raven," sets the stage for the program. The string quartet ...


Kurt Elling: The Questions

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How does one grapple with existence and its juxtaposition against the present state of affairs? That's the question that hangs heaviest over The Questions. While vocalist Kurt Elling didn't come into this production with a theme in mind, he discovered a through line in the act of wrestling with difficulties and dreams in this age of marked unreason and unrest. With these ten songs he explores that topic to the fullest, coloring the music with his signature blend of authority ...


Ben Allison: Between Groove and Melody

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Bassist, bandleader, educator and composer, Ben Allison is one of the leading players of the world stage. During the past twenty years he has released twelve records and led various bands, performed on more than thirty albums, co-founded The Jazz Composers Collective, and served as its Artistic Director until its dissolution in 2005. In this conversation, Allison speaks about his album (Layers of The City, Sonic Camera Records 2017), his personal style, the birth of his own label, his long ...


Jon Faddis at The Wheel

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Jon Faddis The Wheel Greenville, SC March 8, 2018 “The Wheel Sessions" have been taking place in the funky performance space called The Wheel in Greenville, South Carolina since August, 2016. Ten bucks gets you two sets of music with many of the best jazz players in Upstate South Carolina and the Asheville, North Carolina area, plus your choice of beer or wine. There is a deep bench of excellent local performers who have graced ...